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T.J. Yates: “We’re going to do everything we can to improve that position” on the quarterback’s future in Atlanta

After moving from coaching Falcons wide receivers to quarterbacks this season, Yates was kept on as head coach by Raheem Morris in 2024.


QB coach T.J. Yates and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson of the Falcons have a long history together.

When Yates called the Manning Passing Academy (also known as “Manning Camp”), the two had their first encounter there in 2008 while serving as camp counselors for collegiate quarterbacks. They both made it to the NFL in the years that followed. Robinson played quarterback for New England and Detroit, while Yates was the backup for Houston and Atlanta.

After finishing their playing careers, Robinson (with the Rams) and Yates (with the Texans) both went into coaching in 2019. Since then, as their career trajectories continued to intersect, they kept in touch while working their way up.

“Me and Zac,” Yates said, “we see the game through the same lens.”

It’s why — when Robinson became offensive coordinator on Raheem Morris’ staff in Atlanta — he knew who his quarterbacks coach had to be. Yates officially made the move from coaching the Falcons wide receivers in 2023 to coaching quarterbacks this upcoming season. He returns to his roots, something he’s greatly looking forward to.

“It’s the thing I’m most comfortable with,” Yates said, “being able to teach and coach those things and relate to those guys from past experiences that I’ve had playing the game. It’s going to be a fun transition getting back into it.”

It’s also going to be a lot of work, and Yates knows that.

The Falcons are at a major crossroads when it comes to the future of the quarterback position in Atlanta. The Falcons have Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke on the roster, both started games for Atlanta in 2023. However, Falcons leadership has made it no secret that they’re on the hunt to find QB1. They’re prepared to look anywhere and everywhere for him, and that’s something Yates hammered home in his first media availability as the Falcons quarterbacks coach on Thursday.

“We’re going to look at every option that we have,” he said.

So, what are the Falcons looking for? Obviously, they can’t give you a name right now. There isn’t a name right now. They can give you qualities they like in a signal caller, though. That’s been the go-to, question-and-answer combo in recent weeks.

For Yates, he said there are certain qualities that are never going to change in your evaluations of quarterbacks across the market, whether it be in free agency, the draft or a trade.

“First and foremost, you have to have a tough, competitive guy. A leader who is going to come into the room – come into the team – and be able to bring guys with them,” Yates explained. “As far as physical traits, you have to, obviously, be able to throw it on all levels. You’ve got to have accuracy. You’ve got to have decision-making. All of those buzzwords that you want with a quarterback.”

Yates added, though, that there are a few intangibles of the quarterback position that are difficult to quantify.

“You never know how a guy is going to be able to process information and how high of a rate he’s going to be able to process information until you really get your hands on him when they’re running your offense when they’re doing things that you’re telling him to do,” he said. “With the quarterback process, you see guys trying to scout QBs and it’s one of the hardest things to quantify those certain ‘it’ factors. … There’s not a true metric in some of that stuff.”

It’s true that assessing and rating quarterbacks is a numbers game. It’s even scientific. But let’s face it: A small amount of chance also plays a role. An example of that? Two seasons later, how many people would have predicted that Mr. Irrelevant would lead his team to the Super Bowl? This is directed for you, Brock Purdy.

Regardless your perspective, the Falcons’ pursuit of QB1 need both science and fortune to work in their favor.

Owner Arthur Blank stated as much at his pre-Super Bowl media availability. The Falcons don’t have a whole season to decide on their quarterback strategy. Answers and a strategy are urgently needed. They are actively striving to achieve that.

“Obviously, everyone is aware of that football position team needs to become better, and we’re going to do everything in our power to strengthen that position,” Yates declared.


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